An Interview with Mr. Chris Runckel,
President of Runckel & Associates
in Rainmakers Column of
Portland Monthly Magazine
- Research assistance by John Draper
Ask Chris Runckel just how he came to be one of the world’s foremost experts on business in
Asia, and he’ll start off by telling you that he grew up in , where his father invested hardboard, a type of particle board. Hood River
Then he’ll mention that he was drafted into the infantry in 1969, when he was 19, and fought in the jungles of
. And that after his tour, the GI Bill put him through the University of Vietnam , then law school at Lewis & Clark. And that the law degree he earned took him to Gerald Ford’s White House in 1975, when as deputy general counsel of the Presidential Clemency Board he helped pardon Vietnam-era deserters and draft evaders. Oregon
He might also offer that he has worked at American embassies in
(where he married the daughter of a noted Thai architect), Bangkok , Beijing, Fiji Hong Kongand – and in 1996, as the first London diplomat assigned to U.S. after the Vietnam War. Then he’ll tell you how he abruptly retired from diplomatic life in 1998 to move his family into his parents’ house in Hillsdale so his teenage son – now a junior studying genetics at Hanoi – could attend Dartmouth . Wilson High School
“We had moved 12 times in 14 years, and I made a deal with him that he would start and finish in the same high school,” says Runckel, president of Runckel & Associates, the international consulting firm he founded in 1999 and runs out of his parents’ home, which he now owns, “I was happy to come back here. People who’ve been living here for a long time don’t understand how the city is changing. One of the reasons I’m very bullish onIncluding, of course, Chris Runckel and associates like his wife, Soraya, co-owner and vice president of the firm, which specializes in helping
is because there’s this resurgence, this considerable talent that is coming here.” Portland companies establish offices and factories in U.S. Asia, something Runckel & Associates itself has done 15 times in nine Asian countries. As for the vice president, who oversees the company’s 26 websites – some of which generate more than a million hits a month – Soraya Runckel also is an accomplished watercolor artist whose works have been shown in galleries from to Beijing . London
Chris Runckel now spends most of his days on airplanes, advising clients around the world (he’s fluent in seven languages), including the State Department’s Office of Presidential and Vice Presidential Travel (Runckel has provided foreign travel logistical support for the last sixWhich he thinks is a lesson his own hometown could learn from.
presidents). He’s even helping officials at U.S. in Layola Marymount University retool the focus of the school’s MBA program from Los Angeles Europeto Asia.
is not fully seeing its potential in Portland Asia,” says Runckel. “It’s not so much that Portland doesn’t realize that Asia is important, I think, it’s partially a failure of city government, state government and the business community to come together and effectively build a strategy that makes sense for the region. My point is that when it comes to Asia, is just scratching the surface. A lot of opportunities are being left on the table.” Portland
And guys like Runckel are cleaning up.
Copyright, 2005 © Runckel &
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